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The Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center has a new Director – Dr. Guisselle Monge Arias



For those that have visited Selva Verde Lodge & Private Reserve in Sarapiquí, many of you are familiar with the Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center, which is a non-profit organization founded in 1995 and located adjacent to the main Lodge. The Learning Center’s mission is to introduce local communities to environmental education resources, community development, conservation, and ecotourism. Some key programs include a semi-public library with extension programming, English as Foreign Language classes (EFL), and being the local office for the San Juan-La Selva Biological Corridor.

The new Director, Dr. Guisselle Arias Monge, is no stranger to Sarapiquí. In fact, Guisselle was previously a Board member of the Learning Center at the time that she and her husband, Dr. Olivier Chassot, worked as co-directors of the Great Green Macaw Research and Conservation Program with the Tropical Science Center in Costa Rica for twenty years. Guisselle has extensive knowledge in sustainability issues, experience in project design, fund management and implementation of conservation biology programs, biological corridors, leadership of national, bi-national and regional inter-institutional alliances, and the protection of natural areas. She is a passionate professional in her fields of conservation and sustainable development.

Giuselle Monge Arias blog

“We are very fortunate to have Guisselle as our Director at the Learning Center. Guisselle’s passion for linking communities and conservation is at the very heart of what the Learning Center was founded to do. Her deep experience in our region is truly invaluable and will accelerate what we are able to accomplish. In addition, the Learning Center has been almost entirely dependent on tourism income and, especially during this time in which tourism is impacted by the pandemic, her experience in projects and grants will be critical for us," said Andrea Holbrook, President of the Learning Center’s Board. “We are also happy that her leadership style is team oriented because we’ve had a great team that has been essentially leading themselves for the past four years. I know that Guisselle’s leadership will maximize their talents and contributions.”

Guisselle is excited to have the opportunity to share her knowledge and talents with an organization that is directly connected with tourism the way that the Learning Center is. She is looking forward to engaging with travelers to facilitate connections with local people and to help travelers understand their vital role in conservation by supporting community rural tourism. Though her conversational English is at an intermediate level, she is looking forward to improving her skills within the Learning Center, both within the EFL classes offered by the Center as well as with visitors.

Guisselle’s first day was March 1st which coincided almost exactly with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been a big challenge to start this way, especially as she was confronted immediately with a funding crisis. However, together with the Board and team, she is working to find a way to manage this crisis and hopefully come out stronger on the other side through grants and donations. She launched the “Sustain the Learning Center” Campaign in April and hopes to invite people who care about the Center, the region, and conservation of tropical rainforests to support the Learning Center.

For more information visit: http://learningcentercostarica.org/

Donate $100 to the “Sustain the Learning Center” campaign here.

Welcome to the Learning Center, Guisselle!